(This article was originally published in the March 2020 issue of Paper Jam)
The wage gap in the US has been a source of major political controversy. Since women and minorities have been allowed to vote, the difference in pay between genders has ignited a series of debates amongst many politicians. Since 1996, National Equal Pay Day has been observed every year to give awareness to this difference.
The National Committee on Pay Equity is composed of women’s and civil rights organizations, labor unions, professional associations, and those working to rid the nation of sex-and race-based wage discrimination and have equal pay for all individuals. The date changes annually, representing how far into the year the average woman in the US works to earn the same pay as the average man, not considering previous experience or job type. This year’s National Equal Pay Day falls on March 31st, meaning that:
the average woman must work 90 days more a year to earn the same annual pay as a man would.
National Equal Pay Day can be celebrated by wearing red to signify how far women and minorities are “in the red” with their pay. The American Association of University Women, or AAUW, has been a large advocate for equal pay since 1922, and their website highlights the pay gap in the US as being 80 cents to a dollar for what women typically earn compared to men. It also states that this gap is worsened for women of color, and other national days are held for Asian American women, African American women, Native women, and Latina women.
The website also describes different ways to celebrate National Equal Pay Day, such as urging elected officials to pass legislation to lessen or close the wage gap. Since 1979, the National Committee on Pay Equity has attempted to do this and have hoped for a brighter future for women’s pay.